The future of leadership in the information age

Jon Kennard (Editor Training Journal) talks to Mark Bouch about the future of leadership and business in this increasingly technology-focused world in which we live. 

This podcast for Training Journal (TJ Talks) explored the impact of workplace technology on leadership. Mature technologies include collaborative solutions to help us work on the move, increase flexibility and connectivity. Many companies are now starting to implement solutions to automate many time-consuming routine management tasks including staff scheduling, time management, performance monitoring and reporting. Over the next few years, artificial intelligence powered software will help us generate more value from data new ways.  Advances in machine learning, natural language processing, pattern and image recognition will now start to enhance and replace knowledge workers in data-intensive disciplines like clinical diagnosis, complex data analysis, legal research and technical support.   But will machines replace leaders?

Mark discusses the purpose of leadership in the 21st century. Over the next 10-20 years we expect the business environment to be complex and uncertain.  The enduring value of leadership will rely, as it always has, on uniquely human attributes which cannot be automated. These include: self-awareness, imagination, conscience and judgement.

The more we automate in the information age, the more important our people become. Effective leaders will focus on activities and processes which cannot be automated to help people deal with uncertainty and change. They will need to make the ‘close calls’ and perform tasks where subtle behaviour and empathy is required. Machines will play a valuable role as colleagues, augmenting but not replacing leaders.